Italian gastronomy

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ITALIAN FOOD HISTORY
Tracing down the culinary history of Italy we find that it started to make its mark during the Roman Empire movement more than 2000 years ago. The Italians even have a cookbook dating back to the first century B.C which shows how important a place food had in society. The structure of Italy as a country underwent a huge change after the fall of the Roman Empire. Italy wasnow a body of individually governed states that had separate and distinctive identities and hence developed their own tradition. This era was the time when the cuisine of Italy started developing its diversity that we find in it today. Each region developed its own distinctive style of cooking and a formalized menu based on the local ingredients and the lifestyle of the people living there. Youwould find great variance in the way similar dishes are prepared in different regions.
REGIONAL ITALIAN FOOD
Tuscan beef is an item belonging to the north whereas black truffles originated in Marches. The south is credited for producing mozzarella cheese and provolone along with a rich growth of citrus fruits. There was great variance even amongst the most commonly consumed items in Italy such asthe different types or breads and pastas. We find the southern part of Italy was into hard boiled spaghetti whereas the northern regions were more akin to consuming soft egg noodles. Pizza originated from Naples, tortellini from Bologna and Milan is famous for risotto.
Through the course of time however Italian cuisine has evolved into a breed of its own due to a large amount of externalinfluences. The Italians had initially absorbed ancient Greek cookery into their culture. With Roman ships bringing back wheat, wine, fine spices and other exotic ingredients the Italians added new imports to their kitchens. The Italians got their ingredients from all across the world going even as far as China.
The coastal regions of Italy are credited for all the lovely fish and seafood recipes thatwe have today. Anchovies, swordfish, lobster and sardines are some of the main seafood items used in the coastal areas. Traces of Arab influence can also be found especially in the cuisine of Sicily with its spices and sweets. The origins of pasta are till date disputed as some claim it to be a product imported from China whereas others say it is Italy’s local produce which was consumed duringEtruscan and Roman times. Today however Italian cuisine is extremely diverse and rich which is why it is considered one of the most unique and amazing cuisines in the world.
PRINCIPAL ITALIAN PRODUCTS
Baby Lamb (Abbacchio) - Abbacchio is lamb under 90 days old. Abbacchio is milk fed and has "never tasted grass." 
Lamb (Agnello) - Agnello is lamb aged from 90 days to one year.  Though not asvelvety as Abbacchio, it is a very tender lamb.
Asparagus (Asparagi) - Asparagi selvagge is translated as 'wild asparagus' and the vegetable was to be found in the hills around Rome growing wild.
Artichokes (Carciofi) - Artichokes are a mild obsession with the Romans as well they deserve to be.  They are among the finest of artichokes to be found.
Broccoli rabe (broccoli di rape) -   These havebecome quite popular in the last fifteen years in the US.  They are a long-standing staple in Roman cooking.
Salt Cod (Baccalà) - Dried salt cod is a staple of people throughout the world.  In Rome they may be cooked with tomatoes, pine nuts and raisins, or they may be lightly fried in oil.    
Chestnuts (Castagne) - Chestnuts grow throughout the mountains of Viterbo and their arrival in Octoberis celebrated with a festival.  They are shipped to Rome where the chestnut vendors roast them on tins, scenting the air as they roast. 
Chickpeas (chickpeas) and Lentils (Lenticchie) - Both lentils and chickpeas are among the oldest and most nourishing foods of humankind. 
Eels - (Anguilla) The now-polluted Tiber was once the source of eels, but the most savored are the baby eels from Lake...
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